Andrew Ives's Reviews > The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
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's review
Aug 03, 2011

really liked it
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Quite brilliant. For what it is, a 700 page tale of some men stranded on a desert island, it is surprisingly captivating. There is some slight repetition and some of the earlier animal hunting scenes are not necessarily to my taste, but the general educational value of how to get by when you fall on hard times is something I would recommend to any schoolkid. The very politically incorrect scenes where Joop first arrives (although he's rather like a Jar Jar Binks kind of character) are amusing in a strange anachronistic way given how times have changed. There is also an obvious, probably intentional, lack of mention about the mainland, at what has happened to these people, especially from wives, sisters, girlfriends. There seems hardly ever to be a feminine character or mention of one in any of Verne's books and with this being such a long tale, it seems somehow unnatural. Perhaps it's just Verne's way to avoid a pointlessly dreary love story inclusion? Despite these minor drawbacks, this is still definitely one of Verne's best.

NOTE: Avoid reading the introduction by Caleb Carr, who like a shameless and inconsiderate spotlight-grabber, knowing his introduction would be printed ahead of 'the main feature', indulges himself in lengthy nitpicking and revealing of all the pertinent plot details thus completely spoiling any mystery in the classic that is to come thereafter - ie the reason the reader bought the book. It turns out that Carr is an American military afficianado with no more insight in writing the introduction to this book than he might have for The Cat In The Hat. Printed at the end, his comments may have been halfway welcome. At the beginning, they are most unwelcome.

The translator's notes are much less of a spoiler, and quite interesting in their own way, but likewise, would be better placed at the back of the book. It is not usual for everything to be revealed in the introduction of a classic book. The publishers really ought to know better.
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